Russia considering ban on video games under chilling ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’ law

A person wearing green over-head earphones plays on a desktop computer, with the monitor containing a crossed-out LGBT symbol.

The Russian government could start banning some video games under its new ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’ law, according to several reports.

New fears of suppression come after president Vladimir Putin enacted law amendments effectively banning all LGBTQ+ media in the region.

The newly-reformed bill expanded restrictions originally made for media targeted at under-18s to the entire Russian population.

Books with LGBTQ+ representation have already begun to be removed from shelves in libraries across Russia.

Gaming publication Apex Legends News noted a list of games under consideration by Russia’s parliament, following a debate about the legislation’s expansion, in a Monday (5 December) tweet.

According to PC Gamer, Russian politician Yana Lantratova made the initial list of games considered by the state to be ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda.’

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She claimed the listed games, which include titles such as Apex Legends and Overwatch, promoted “homosexuality, pornography, cruelty, and violence” and proposed further amendments to the bill.

While her proposals were initially rejected by State Duma deputies, they reiterated that such concerns would be addressed in later amendments to the bill.

Speaking to PinkNews, LGBTQ+ gaming nonprofit GaymerX’s culture and operations director, Brian Kunde, said: “We’re very concerned for our LGBTQIA+ siblings in Russian. Banning media that accurately and positively represents a marginalized group, including games, is always a first step in any larger plan to persecute them.

“It is our hope that studios impacted by this list of banned media refuse to modify their content and wield their influence to push back on this law.”

Three characters from The Sims 4 all stare at a painting canvas inside an art gallery.
The Sims 4 is just one of the games that is under consideration by the Russian government. (Getty)

The list also includes titles with stories featuring LGBTQ+ themes such as The Last of Us and Life is Strange, along with less linear ‘sandbox’ titles which allow the player to create LGBTQ+ storylines on their own, such as The Sims and RimWorld.

Interestingly, the list also contained an incredibly niche french computer game from 1985 named Le Crime Du Parking, which has occasional LGBTQ+ themes.

So little is known about the game that, prior to a YouTube video posted in 2017, there was effectively no archival footage.

Russia has already begun implementing the ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’ ban

While no explicit plans to ban these or any other titles are in place at the time of reporting, the evidence that Russia could take action soon is apparent in its actions towards other media.

Moscow libraries have already begun pulling LGBTQ+ books from shelves under orders from government officials.

An anonymous source told Russian publication The Village that employees were given a list of authors deemed “foreign agents” and were told to remove their books immediately.

The list also included those who are critical of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gay pride events are also being cancelled and activists being detained, according to Reuters.

Additionally, the government fined multiple social media organisations for “promoting non-traditional values,” including TikTok and Facebook’s parent group Meta.

Meta, who owns both Facebook and Instagram, was fined 4 million roubles (£42,900), while TikTok, owned by ByteDancem, was fined 2 million roubles (£21,400).

TikTok was fined once again in October – this time for 3 million roubles (£44,000) – along with streaming company Twitch.

The government warned that it would impose further fines if videos containing “non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism, and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values,” were not removed from Russian servers.